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    Powercuts may switch off DMK in western TN

    COIMBATORE: Freebies or a concerted campaign by the Opposition against Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s family rule and corruption are hardly rallying points for rural voters of western Tamil Nadu this election season. Villagers are not even bothered about the 2G spectrum scandal and the fancy Rs 1.76 lakh crore which had vanished before entering the treasury accounts. All that bothers them is the frequent and sustained power cuts over the past three to four years.Extensive interviews with voters in the hinterlands of Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri and Erode showed that but for the power cuts and region specific issues like land grabbing and murders in Salem and Erode by political strongmen, they don’t see other charges or promises made by the Opposition as real issues affecting their livelihoods.Not even the price rise, which the villagers acknowledge is linked to the non-harvest season and supply chain, affects them. In Namakkal, the poultry industry and the lorry body building companies have been hit severely by the power cuts.“We have to feed around one lakh hens using mechanised spraying machines at specified timings. Every day, we have five to six feeding schedules, but are not aware when power supply would go off. As a middle-scale unit, we can’t afford generators. We are forced to engage labourers to manually scatter the poultry feed by pulling the machine at a fast pace, but in such cases the feed is not spread evenly,” laments Muvendan, manager of SMN Poultry Farm.AIADMK former Rajya Sabha MP S Anbazhagan, who is overseeing electioneering in Namakkal, says the power cuts have affected women the most as they are unable to prepare food and send their children to school on time. “All industries too have been hit badly and this will reflect in the election,” he says. Also, he says that the public anger over the sudden prosperity in the lifestyle of local DMK men will work to the AIADMK’s advantage.However, Namakkal DMK secretary and Union minister of State for Health Gandhiselvan contends that power cut is a non-issue in his region. “People are impressed with the welfare schemes of the Chief Minister. The self-help groups nurtured directly by Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin is also a big asset for us. After all, both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi have headed governments and the people will compare their performances and vote for us. Families will silently vote for the DMK,” he declares.In Dharmapuri, Pollachi and Salem voters say they use the PDS rice as cattle feed after soaking it in water. Very few families consume the rice and that too for making idly or dosa batter. Others buy “good quality rice” from the open market at Rs 30 per kg.